2011 NAEP Scores: What Do They Tell Us?

NAEP Scores
NAEP Scores

The National Assessment of Educational Progress released its 2011 report card this month. With assessments in mathematics (and language arts) administered at grades 4 and 8 periodically over the last two decades, the results are an indication of how mathematics achievement in elementary and secondary schools across the United States has changed over time.

A nationally representative sample of about 209,000 fourth-graders and 175,200 eighth-graders took the mathematics portion of the test. Copies of both the complete and abbreviated reports can be downloaded (free of charge) at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard. Some national findings include:

* As a whole, a higher percentage of the nation's 4th and 8th grade students scored at or above the 'proficient' level in mathematics since 2009.
* A higher percentage of the nation's fourth-graders scored at the 'advanced' level since 2009.
* Since 1990, across the nation, average scores for 4th and 8th grade students in all ethnic groups have improved.

Results specific to Nebraska are not quite as encouraging:
* Nebraska's 4th and 8th grade students posted no statistically significant changes in average scores from 2009 to 2011 (the 4th grade scores showed a slight increase, the 8th grade scores exhibited a slight decrease, but neither change is considered statistically significant).
* Nebraska’s average 4th grade and average 8th grade scores place them near the middle of the nation with approximately 25 states posting average 4th/8th grade scores that are higher and approximately 20 states posting average 4th/8th grade scores which are lower.

Results related to the achievement gaps among different racial/ethnic groups in Nebraska forms a mixed bag. While the gap between Nebraska's black eighth-graders and their white counterparts saw a significant decrease (in 2001 blacks scored 51 points lower, in 2011 the gap was 38 points), the fact remains that Nebraska's black/white achievement gap is one of the worst in the country. Only Wisconsin and Michigan have worse black-white achievement gaps than Nebraska does at the 4th and 8th grade level (Michigan is tied with Nebraska at 4th grade). Achievement gaps between other subgroups are also highlighted in the table shown.

For other views on the NAEP 2011 results check out these articles: